When was the last time you had a truly ‘once in a lifetime’ experience?
For me it was just a few weeks ago when I ticked something off my bucket list that I never even knew to add to it in the first place, diving 20 metres deep in a Tuscan thermal cave.
Last month as the sunshine’s warmth was welcomely working it’s way through Europe I traveled to Pisa, Italy for a weekend of unexpected discovery above and below ground. I spent a few nights at the quintessentially Tuscan Grotta Giusti followed by an elegant evening at Bagni Di Pisa.
Though they’re roughly 30 minutes apart both hotels within The Italian Hospitality Collection have an incredibly unique wow factor, each is built above a natural hot spring and wonderfully utilises the healing and wellness benefits of the thermal water within. The historic underground grottos invite guests to rejuvenate and revitalise whilst enjoying the authentic luxuries of the hotels themselves.
Both buildings are designed with traditional Italian flamboyance and boast dramatic and authentic decor but the suites at Bagni Di Pisa steal the show with their fairy tale whim. The extravagant tuscan-style rooms take the saying ‘I slept like a princess’ to a whole new level! No expenses have been spared on the rich fabrics and decedent fixtures and the space inside rivals most inner city apartments, my stay there was simply divine with the added bonus of amazing food, warm service and a choice of hydrotherapy pools and pretty outdoor spaces to unwind in.
Despite the royal sleeping quarters of Bagni Di Pisa however, it was the beautifully rustic Grotta Giusti that stole my heart between the two. In similar style, the hotel has a classy atmosphere and exceptional service but the truest magic of the residence is below ground. Grotta Giusti has the world’s largest underwater thermal cave and for hundreds of years the water within the grotto has provided a relaxing and healing experience for those who know to visit.
The large underground grotto acts like a natural steam bath and sauna combined and spending some time wandering through the cave is said to reduce inflammation and stress. The wonder of gazing up and across at stalactites and stalagmites has a visual soothing power and the sound of the trickling water down the cave walls really do lull you into a state of zen.
Within the underground sweat suite there's also a thermal lake that should the grotto not be enough to wow you, the fact that there’s an entire underwater world of vaults and passages may lend a hand to impress! Here you can enjoy the calming feeling of weightlessness in a floating therapy session or if you are a certified scuba diver, you can submerge deeper into the grotto and discover the unique views and hidden cavities that lie lower underground. I was personally lucky enough to dive in the Grotto myself and it was without a doubt one of the most unexpectedly amazing things I've ever done. Navigating my way through the passages with a tank on my back was like no other feeling I’ve ever experienced, I felt like I was walking through space in a world completely unknown and it was incredible. It took skill and it took a lot of concentration but it was a true ‘out of this world’ adventure.
I’m travelling to Croatia today and it will mark my 50th country explored to date, out of all those destinations, there’s only a few experiences I’ve had that match the excitement and intrigue of diving in Grotta Giusti, if you dare, I couldn’t recommend it more!
Written by Sabrina Chakici, TV Host & Travel Blogger at clutchandcarryon.com, follow Sabrina on instagram @sabrina_chakici